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by Peter Moskos

June 24, 2011

God Bless The Economist

For their review:
Imagine that you--or, if you prefer, a younger, more reckless version of you--committed a crime.
And say you were offered a choice: you could either spend those years behind bars, or you could get ten lashes.
You may think flogging is barbaric, but is there any question which you would choose if you could? According to Peter Moskos, a sociologist whose previous book, “Cop in the Hood”, detailed his year spent as a Baltimore beat cop: “If flogging were really worse than prison, nobody would choose it.”

The modern American prison system evolved as an alternative to flogging: penitentiaries were designed to “cure” prisoners of their criminality—to render them penitent—rehabilitating them into productive members of society. On this score, as on most others, it has failed.
“We build prisons for people we’re afraid of and fill them with people we’re mad at.”
Brutal and archaic it may be, but Mr Moskos convincingly argues that America’s prison system is at least as inhumane.
Perhaps the most damning evidence of the broken American prison system is that it makes a proposal to reinstate flogging appear almost reasonable. Almost.
Now will you buy my book?


JPP said...

Are you interested in links to articles that fit within your blog's purview? I read certain stories and then wonder what your take would be. I didn't want to clog up your comments section. Two examples are:

An app for recording police encounters, featured in the Atlantic


and a pastor in Balt. starting an on-demand no-wait methadone clinic, featured in Balt Sun


PCM said...

I'm always interested.

Feel free (as some people do) to send me an email with the link.


Tim said...

Link to the Economist review in the strangest of places:

The Big Lead

PCM said...

Strange indeed. But then again, what could be a better sport?

Anonymous said...

I think flogging is great and we should start with Markos because he is guilty of being an asshole

PCM said...

Marcos was an asshole. And can you believe how many pairs of shoes his wife Imelda had? Insane. Definite candidate for flogging.